The complete title of this section is, The Character Shift, as against Movement of Character. The premise, as suggested in the previous section, is that merely demonstrating change in a character is not enough. On some level, for the intended audience, that change also needs to be convincing.
For Hills, however, that distinction is just the starting point:
One way of detecting the difference between the character shift and movement of character is by considering the function the character change performs in the narrative. A character shift usually permits, rather than causes, something to happen.
This may seem a rather banal observation. In fact, I think it’s one of the most useful observations anyone could make about storytelling, and particularly so for people who are new to the craft. Not only does this distinction generally cleave bad writing from good by simple rule, it provides an equally simple test for detecting the problem. Does your character change as a result of what happens, or to facilitate what happens? [ Read more ]